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Florida's law discriminates

It is unfortunate the Florida effort to amend the state constitution to allow felons to vote specifically excludes those convicted of murder and sex offenses and will enshrine bigotry and discrimination against those people into the state constitution. Apparently redemption, second chances and good citizenship and voting are okay for only some felons. Thus corrupt government officials who sell out their offices can regain their voting rights but others cannot.

Martin Luther King sought the right to vote for all Americans; he did not do so at the expense of others, whether white, Hispanic or such. The GLBT movement has sought rights and equality for all GLBT people. Thus today a gay person convicted of murder can get married but in Florida will not be allowed to vote if this amendment passes.

Even worse, is it is faith-based groups leading the effort to further discriminate against and disenfranchise people convicted of murder and sex offenses in Florida. Would Jesus really not want sex offenders and murderers to vote, or would he believe they too are entitled to citizenship and human dignity?

I was convicted of murder in 1987, served seventeen years in prison, and I live in Florida and while the state and everyone pushing this amendment wants me to follow the law and pay taxes, they do not want me to vote. And no one will tell me why I should not be able to vote. If convicted felons can’t vote we should not have to pay taxes. Yet no one is saying that.

I have advocated for felon and prisoner voting rights since 1989 but have never thought that the rights of one group of poor, oppressed and disenfranchised people should come at the expense of another. I hope that people of faith and conscience ask themselves what would Dr. King and what would Jesus do before they consider voting for this amendment. Would they throw murderers and sex offenders under the bus of political expediency? If they wouldn’t, why should you?

I am the executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center.

Paul Wright

Lake Worth, FL

Dec 22 2014 - 6:49pm

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